NeoDogs and Neodolphins

   Since the topic has come up in the Federation-Apocalypse campaign, here’s a detailed description of the history of, and the racial modifiers for, NeoDog and NeoDolphin characters. As usual, these are set up using the point-buy rules for Eclipse The Codex Persona Classless d20 (available in print HERE or in a shareware version HERE). This doesn’t cover too much of the NeoDolphin culture, since that isn’t especially well known at the moment.

   The visionary scientific organization that would later become known as the “Malenfant” (or “Strange Child”) Foundation – driven by the general disappointment of nearly two centuries of interstellar exploration without the discovery of sapient life other than the Tahl (a species of alien fish with a primitive oral culture and no real manipulative organs) – began organized work on the genetic designs for various uplifted “neo-“animal species in 2297, and had limited tests of particular genetic complexes underway by the very early 2300’s. Unfortunately, they were denied permission to proceed further, thanks to both environmental laws and restrictions on the genetic engineering of sapient creatures. Unwilling to accept this, the foundation set up secret, private, facilities in the asteroid belt and produced the first full batch of 100 prototype Neodogs in 2314.

   Similar batches of Neodolphins, Newsquids, and Neochimpanzees were in existence by 2317, at which time the existence of the uplift project, along with plans for more than a dozen other neo-species (including a fair selection of dangerous land-dwelling species), was discovered by the Federation at large. The uplift project was shut down – but the foundations genetic engineers had been careful to insert genetic obedience-programming oriented towards humans into the various neo-species, rendering them blatantly harmless. Faced with a fiat accompli, and unwilling to put to death hundreds of helpless sapient creatures, the debates continued across the federation until the public reached a consensus: work on refining the existing neospecies was permitted to resume in 2328. The final genetic enhancements were completed in 2376 (NeoDogs), 2378 (NeoChimps), 2379 (NeoDolphins), and 2380 (NeoSquids).

   Since it had been decided that most of the work involved had been acceptable, the scientists involved were released from mandatory counseling, rebuked for breaking the rules, and informed that – from now on – their work would be officially monitored. They were also bombarded with requests from small children that they make their hamster/turtle/canary/etcetera talk, but that was fairly easily dealt with by filtering software. The various neospecies remained officially transferable chattels, requiring a human guardian/master, but enjoyed a modest selection of civil rights otherwise – requiring that they be adequately cared for in a variety of ways and prohibiting their mistreatment. Notably, thanks to concerns over the stability of their genetic modifications, they were not given reproductive rights – although a number of breeding pairs of neodolphins were released into the Atlantic ocean as early as 2428.

   Limited neurosurgical deprogramming experiments began in 2442, after a couple of stable generations#. Unfortunately, they were less than successful in neosquids and neochimps; both proved erratic and unable to adapt to human civilization when operating unrestricted. Those two species remain supervised laboratory curiosities to this day*. Neodolphins and neodogs were more successful, and limited genetic deprogramming was permitted after 2482. Greater civil rights, including reproductive rights and the usual luxury-credit allowance, were extended to the (modest) deprogrammed population in 2512.

   As of 2572, there are some 6.2 million neodogs – almost all of them which have ever been born – scattered amongst the human population. The vast majority – all except about 12,000 of them – are still on earth and still genetically obedience-programmed (and hence chattel). A fairly high percentage are relatively young. There was a brief craze for NeoDog companions for youngsters during the early days of the Opening, since they could evidently accompany children (and hopefully “look after them”) if they vanished – but there were few substantial results: while not a few Gatekeepers and Openers still have NeoDog companions/pets, their young masters simply dragged them along into the Manifold where the NeoDogs were helpless to do much about whatever mischief their owners got into. Traditionalists rapidly returned to classical breeds and modernists continued to employ low-maintenance and high-utility computer remotes or “Imps” as pets instead, leaving many of the obedience-programmed Neodogs more or less forgotten, free to experiment with their own oral-tale and pack-oriented culture. Perhaps unfortunately, many of them have been seduced by the easy virtual amusements and basic comforts of Core, and simply spend their time amusing themselves and waiting for some human to come and adopt them.

   Some of the free Neodogs and some idealistic humans are quietly running a project to deprogram and educate pet-class Neodogs, but the process is expensive and interest limited, hence progress has been slow.

   Neodolphins are a great deal more populous, despite a far larger number of casualties. Released into the earth’s oceans, and provided with limited computer support, they have currently displaced most of the natural species of dolphins and porpoises, as well as most of the sharks in competitive size ranges. Their estimated population stands at 118 million, with perhaps one-third that many deceased and active in the Manifold. No complete genetic survey has been possible, but medical assistance records (parasite removal 97%, all other categories 3%) indicate that at least 98% of the population – down from 99% 30 years ago – still carries genetic obedience imprinting. While NeoDolphins do obligingly play with swimmers, divert people in small boats from dangerous waters, and provide other minor services (such as swimmer rescue – if, in these days of smartclothes life-support and computer monitoring, a swimmer should ever need it) they seem to have neatly subverted the designers intent by simply only learning their own variant language – composed of a mixture of adapted human words, classical cetacean sounds, invented words, and sonar pulses, spoken in cadences and frequencies that humans can only hear bits of and cannot speak at all. Simple lack of contact, of course, weakens such programming even further.

   Humans can still call on the services of the obedience-programmed NeoDolphins, but will generally need to be either skillful telepaths, or to haul along a translation system, if they wish to do so. This is rarely done: for the most part, computer and force field systems perform almost any task better than a dolphin with no manipulative limbs. A few NeoDolphins have been included on colonizing expeditions to worlds with extensive oceans, but such groups are still dependent on extensive support everywhere except the very oldest worlds; supporting a hunting lifestyle requires a fully-established earth-type oceanic ecology. A fair number may have begun to colonize the manifold however: it is not uncommon for them to accompany sailing vessels that Gatekeepers and Openers are taking out of core.

   At this point relatively little is known of the culture the Neodolphins are developing: it appears to be highly oral (of course), and likely to be stressing the development of psychic and magical skills. It also seems to be somewhat more ruthless and darwinistic than current human cultures, possibly because there are no places of safety for them in the sea.

   *Current research on neosquids suggests that the difficulty lies in the basic neural architecture; without governing inhibitions and forced external obligations, the neosquid brain tends to lock itself in instinct-satisfaction dreamstates. Correcting this would require a complete redesign, and – since the discovery of actual aliens and the Manifold – the drive to do so simply isn’t there any longer. The difficulty with Neochimps has never been satisfactorily analyzed since it seems to lie in Manifold-based – and essentially untraceable – soul-feedback. Uninhibited Neochimps tend to become increasingly erratic and violent over time. Most speculation revolves around having two such closely related sapient species attempting to co-exist in close proximity in core, especially with one so heavily outnumbering the other. A few scholars have suggested a relationship to the extinction of the various other homid lines in prehistory, but – at least for now – any such relationship is purely speculative.

   #With their lifespans extended to near-human (multicentury) levels and the potential to produce offspring regularly for several centuries, it’s probably a good thing that the designers of the neospecies implemented an extended maturity curve (sexual maturity at about 15 years but essentially infertile until full physical maturity at approximately 20-25, gestation of ten months in NeoDogs, eighteen in Neodolphins), designed the females to be infertile for a minimum of 4-5 years after each pregnancy, limited them to one, or (rarely) two offspring at a time, and ensured that they were not fertile with their base species. All the neo-species also show the usual neotonous characteristics – extended periods of dependency, as well as learning time, curiosity, and playfulness extending into adulthood. Both NeoDolphins and NeoDogs are sexually active year-round, a feature added to Neodogs – after some debate – simply to prevent a comprehension gap between them and humans.

 

NeoDog Racial Template (+0 ECL / 31 CP).

  • +2 Str, +4 Dex, +4 Con (Normally 60 CP, reduced to 30 CP by world laws).
  • +1 Natural Armor (Defender. Specialized: Does not increase with level, 3 CP)
  • Occult Sense/Scent (6 CP)
  • Occult Sense/Low-Light Vision (6 CP. Note that the geneticists upgraded their basic sensitivity to color and detail to human standards)
  • Adept (6 CP): Half cost on buying the Jump, Listen, Spot, and Survival skills.
  • +2 to Jump (1 CP).
  • Martial Arts/1d4 Innate Weapons, always considered armed (3 CP).
  • Immunity/Aging (uncommon/minor/minor, 2 CP). They can expect to live for several centuries without much of any signs of aging.
  • Grant of Aid/Specialized (requires several hours): May heal 1d8+5 damage OR 1d3 points of attribute damage OR one negative level once per three levels per day or part thereof, 3 CP), with the Regenerative option/Corrupted (requires lots of food and rest, 2 CP), allowing them to slowly regrow lost limbs and organs.

   That would be 62 CP, but the entire template can be considered specialized, reducing the net cost to 31 CP – the limit for a +0 ECL template. The factors here include the simple fact that NeoDogs have four legs (adding 10′ to their ground movement), but no arms or hands – which pretty much eliminates the use of most tools, weapons, and shields, keeps them from donning or removing armor or life support systems, blocks the use of effects requiring gestures, makes it easy for them to be tied up or trapped, and so on. They also have strong instincts (the game master may call for will checks where relevant – such as for any attempt to violate pack loyalty), limited legal rights in core (and most other areas), and may be subject to obedience programming – forcing them to consider one or more humans as their masters. Fortunately for them, along with bringing their intelligence up to baseline human levels, the genetic engineers also inserted genes for longevity and enhanced healing abilities.

 

Neodolphin Racial Template (+0 ECL / 31 CP)

  • Dex +4, Con +2, Int +2 (48 CP, reduced to 24 CP by World Laws).
  • Celerity (18 CP), +20′ Swim Movement, +8 to all Swim Checks, may “take 10” under stress.
  • Occult Sense/Low-Light Vision (6 CP).
  • Occult Sense/Sonar (6 CP) (Specialized: only really works well in water, but works nicely out to 120 feet). Note that dolphin sonar is capable of resolving fairly fine details, examining the internal structure of bodies and many other items, and of medical diagnostics. Relevant checks are made with the Listen skill.
  • Innate “Enchantment”/Aquatic Adaptions (12 CP) plus Immunity to Antimagic and Dispelling / Only to protect these abilities (these are personal-only physical adaptions, and work perfectly well in Core, 6 CP): Personal Haste (+1 Attack when making a full attack, +30′ Movement [2000 GP]), Streamlining (+30′ swimming, [1400 GP]), Deep Breathing (can hold their breaths up to ten minutes, [1400 GP]), Wakefullness (NeoDolphins are never fully asleep, although they do suffer a -4 penalty on perception and swimming checks during rest periods, [1400 GP]), +5 to Listen checks while in water [1400 GP], Hide Like Ox (+1 Natural Armor, to represent their fatty layer, 1400 GP), Augmented Natural Weapons (increases base damage to 1d8, only when ramming in water, [1000 GP]).
  • Adept (6 CP): Half cost on buying the Listen, Spot, Survival, and Swim skills.
  • +4 to Listen and Swim (4 CP)
  • Martial Arts/1d4 Innate Weapons, always considered armed (3 CP).
  • Immunity/Aging (uncommon/minor/minor, 2 CP). They can expect to live for several centuries without much of any signs of aging.
  • Grant of Aid/Specialized (requires several hours): May heal 1d8+5 damage OR 1d3 points of attribute damage OR one negative level once per three levels per day or part thereof, 3 CP), with the Regenerative option/Corrupted (requires lots of food and rest, 2 CP), allowing them to slowly regrow lost limbs and organs.

   That would be 92 CP, but the entire template can be considered both Specialized and Corrupted, reducing the net cost to 31 CP – the limit for a +0 ECL template. After all, NeoDolphins are virtually helpless on land and have no manipulative limbs – keeping them from using virtually all equipment, including the stuff that you only have to wear, unless someone helps them. Secondarily, they have no sense of smell, limited legal rights in core (and most other areas), and may be subject to obedience programming – forcing them to give a very high priority to human orders. Fortunately for them, along with bringing their intelligence up to baseline human levels, the genetic engineers also inserted genes for longevity and enhanced healing abilities.

Legend of the Five Rings: Ivory Kingdom Schools

   The Asuras and Devas from the previous L5R post use a lot of new schools. While the Meditations of Unity is the only one to be fully posted so far – if only to preserve some surprises for the players – here are some capsule descriptions of the rest of those schools. Which of them actually gets posted next depends partially on whimsy and partially on which ones draw the most questions (and investigation) from the players and/or people who stumble across them online.

   It should be noted that most of the Ivory Kingdoms schools are quite powerful, if often fairly narrowly specialized. After all, quite a few of their developers have been refining them for dozens of lifetimes. The school design rules can be found in the player’s packet .PDF.

   Blood Tide: This semi-vampiric discipline supposedly allows its practitioners to drain their victims abilities to enhance their own, to entrap their victims souls in living brains within their decaying bodies, and to animate the dead to serve them. This reputation is likely a mixture of truth and rumor.

   Dharmadahara School: This Courtier school focuses on the detection of truth, the administration of justice, and near-universal expertise through the manipulation of Void.

   Dheramada School: This “courtier” school focuses on manipulating others, both by obtaining various services, through minor psychic abilities, and by imbuing companions – whether human or animal – with a portion of the user’s power and dispatching them on various missions. Oddly enough, a notable assassins’s school, at least to those (very very few) who know enough about it to recognize the possibilities.

   Elemental Storm: A semi-spellcasting school, focused on obtaining massive magical “favors” from various sorts of spirits and on amplifying the relevant skills to permit larger-than usual favors. One of the most effective schools around for causing widespread destruction.

   Forest Demon: A stealth-assassination school which uses a wide variety of poisons, eccentric weapons, and bizarre techniques to achieve the advantages of surprise in combat. Not all that effective in battle, but very useful in escaping.

   Garuda: A “courtier” school emphasizing knowledge, awareness, and investigation, albeit with a few basic defensive techniques thrown into the bargain. Practitioners are noted for their intuitive talent at assessing the odds in any situation.

   Gaze of Yama: A series of techniques allowing the user to inflict massive penalties on opponents in the immediate vicinity simply by willing it so, coupled with some basic weapons techniques designed to handle the opponents so weakened.

   Hungry Ghost: An eccentric school which focuses on biting people – for large amounts of damage – and on using the swallowed chunks of flesh to create mystical links between the user and his victims, allowing him or her to track said victims, drain their abilities, and even to tap into some of their magical talents, if any.

   Inner Citadel: A school focusing on resistances, supernatural immunities, and unbreakable will, but with some more conventional defensive aspects.

   Invincible Guardian: Apparently a highly defensive discipline, focused on defense, absorbing large amounts of damage, and spotting potential attackers regardless of their attempts to conceal themselves and their intentions. Somewhat unusual, in that it can be used to defend others as well as the user.

   Iron Body: A straightforward school focusing on invulnerability, or as close to such as a string of techniques will get you.

   Leaping Flame Sword: A straightforward sword school, focused on speed, acrobatic movement and evasions, and strikes.

   Night Wind of the Soul: Believed to focus on demonic powers, sendings, and summonings. Has not yet been seen in action, and is one of the more secretive schools out there. It’s few practitioners rarely share their knowledge.

   Purifying Waters: Primarily a healing and purifying school for exorcists, albeit granting access to some fairly strong water effects at higher ranks.

   Rahu-Ketu School of the Midnight Sun. This strongly mystical school focuses on the powers of Light and Darkness Magic – although NEVER using both at the same time. Most practitioners stick to the lesser powers; the use of the greater ones have sometimes resulted in massive disasters – although no one is really sure; no one has ever survived such an occurance.

   Seven Secret Cuts: Apparently focuses on spell-like powers, channeled through sword-strikes and based on elemental effects. The Strike of the Water Dragon seems to freeze everyone in a wide radius (killing weaker opponents and entrapping more powerful ones) while the Void Dragon Slash is a teleportation effect. Secondarily, it seems to offer some athletics enhancements, to aid maneuvering.

   ShadowFire: An unarmed and unarmored school focusing on the ability to call forth spiritual fire which feeds on defined qualities. Secondary techniques include supernatural sight, body-control, self-healing, and other “monkish” talents.

   Shattering Palm: An unarmed school focusing on raw destruction – including that of masses of stone, of the structure of spells, of weapons and armor, and of bones and flesh. Not really the best against an armed and skilled opponent, but an effective tool in a wide variety of situations and about the only known school that allows you to block incoming spells by smashing them with your bare hands.

   Sun Blade School: Reportedly an almost totally-offensive school which allows it’s users to inflict tremendous amounts of damage wielding weapons conjured from nothingness.

   Ward of Heaven: A spirit-mastery school, who’s wielders can temporarily bestow the benefits of various spirit-ally augmentations on a sizable number of allies. Masters can anchor their allies spirits with their own bodies, keeping them from dying no matter how severe their physical injuries. This cannot be maintained indefinitely, and magical healing will usually be needed once the body is past the normal point of death, but it can still be extremely useful.

   Whispers of the Winds: A school apparently focusing on supernatural senses and awareness of the user’s surroundings. Dangerous at higher levels thanks to the awareness it grants of flaws in defenses, nerve points, and similar weaknesses.

Asuras and Devas in the Ivory Kingdoms

   Well, given that the party in the Legend of the Five Rings campaign is currently messing about in the Ivory Kingdoms, here’s a quick accounting for the various Asuras and Devas they’ve encountered so far. Note that EVERY Asura and Deva is normaly a past master of the Meditations of Unity. Some basic notes on their schools will be posted later.

   The Asuras or “Demon-Gods” (more properly “extremely powerful and erratic people who just come back in ten or fifteen years even if you manage to kill them – which is unlikely at best”) of the Ivory Kingdoms tend to be arrogant, feared, deferred to, and – after a few lifetimes – usually accept that as a right. They’re usually more than a bit obsessive and unstable. Still, many of them are, in fact, relatively decent people – but they’ve been used to being a law unto themselves for centuries and are as dangerous to hang around as any other high-powered adventurer type.

   The fact that – since they are free to focus on upgrading their rings and buying up skills to the point where they can yield rank enhancements rather than spending experience points on buying techniques – they are often rank six or so, and masters of multiple schools (even discounting the Meditations of Unity), in their twenties or below, just make things worse.

   So far the group has dealt, at least briefly, with several Asuras:

   Two pirates attacked them on the way into the Ivory Kingdoms, looking for the exotic wealth that a ship from the Empire was likely to contain – Jitender Narkoon (M), a master of the Seven Secret Cuts and the Leaping Flame Sword schools and Rangan Kieroth (M), a master of the Hungry Ghost School and the Night Wind of the Soul School. While Rangan was killed and Jitender driven off, it was a narrow victory, and many of the other people aboard were killed in the process.

   In the port city of Andana the group briefly encountered Kashinath Daman (M), one of the most powerful Asura in the area and a master of the Elemental Storm School, the Invincible Guardian School, and the Sun Blade School, in the Temple Quarter, but decided not to interact much with him. Toku Najite briefly encountered Vajrasena Shivan (M), a master of the Blood Tide School and partial master of the Forest Demon School on the city streets thereafter, and witnessed the horrible results of turning his wrath against a young pickpocket.

   In the Emirship of Timingila, where the group went to visit the Tomb of Sarphabanda (AKA, the Tomb of the Rakasha or the Tomb of the Designer), and later the Emir, they also encountered – and at least briefly allied with against Narakikin Vyathayry, a Rakasha of Torment – a small group of Asuras. The five members include Vikrant Madan (M), a ten-year-old master of the Shadowfire School (currently working on the Inner Citadel School), Prisidivati Vasina (F), a mistress of the Purifying Waters School and an expert in Mantras who is currently working on the Whispers of the Winds School, Rathavabhasa (M), a master of the Shattering Palm School and the Iron Body School, Kashyapa Megha (M), a master of the Gaze of Yama and Invincible Guardian Schools, and Chandravati Vigsara (F): a mistress of the Dheramada and Garuda Schools, as well as a dabbler in various mystical arts (Mantra, Mudra, and the Impersonal Disciplines) (all explained in either the Campaign Handout Packet or the Legend of the Five Rings tab).

   The Devas, or “Guardian Lords” (perhaps better translated as “extremely powerful but restrained people who come back if you somehow manage to kill them”) tend to be self-righteous, superior, and more than a bit smug. They’ve been at this for many lifetimes, and tend to treat everyone else – except for the Asuras – as small children. Asuras they just treat like over-excitable adolescents. They’re presence is vital for maintaining stability in the Ivory Kingdoms, but they’re rarely well liked until they get so old that everyone expects the ancient sage to treat them like a child.

   Like the Asuras, they’re free to focus on gaining rank rather than spending experience points on buying techniques, which tends to make them atrocities of power at a relatively young age. Unlike the Asuras, they traditionally go by a single name to signify their renunciation of the world.

   In the port city of Andana the group spent some time talking with Padmottara (M), one of the local high priests. His abilities are completely unknown, since the group was only looking for some advice and information at the time. He seemed to be good at that, for what it’s worth.

   In distant Hipigala, Ninsei used the Recondite Weave and the Mandate of Heaven to get into touch with Rasavara – now a Deva, once a young prince and Asura who’s death after a lengthy hibernation-meditation (focused on his eventual vengeance) eventually led to the creation of Sarphabanda, the Rakasha of Artifice (whom he fought several times in later lives). Rasavara (M) is extremely elderly at the moment, and will soon have to start a new life. He’s apparently still a powerful master of Techynic Magic, as well as (presumably) a master of several other schools.

   In the Timingila Winter Palace the group encountered the four Deva who were supporting the local government. The Deva were originally just keeping an eye on these disruptive foreigners and the five Asuras they’d towed along – but fighting a powerful Rakasha obviously took precedence over such concerns. This group includes Chandana (M): a master of the Ward of Heaven School and the Dharmadahara School, Mirdangimi (F), a mistress of the Rahu-Ketu School of the Midnight Sun and the Inner Citadel Schools, Ratna-Chandra (F), a mistress of the Ward of Heaven School and the Garuda School, as well as a dabbler in Mantras, and Vipashyin (M), a master of the Sun Blade School and a student of the Leaping Flame Sword School.

The Meditations of Unity: an Ivory Kingdoms Advanced Courtier School

   In any given life, with each turning of the wheel, a soul may accumulate powers and techniques, memories and secrets, skills and lore, good and evil, links with other souls and strange affinities.

   In death, as souls transmigrate between the realms, from the prospective of those trapped within time and the turnings of the wheel, such things may take on lives of their own – each a facet of the central core, separate, yet linked outside of time. A soul may become a celestial kami, a demon of destruction, a spirit of trickery, an honored ancestor who aids his or her descendants, a vision appearing in dreams, and be reborn on Ningen-do – all at the same time – and repeat the process yet again. A whirlwind of shards of the self, reflections in a million broken mirrors cascading through time.

   The Meditations of Unity strengthen those links. They prevent the fragmentation of the spirit under the stresses of death and rebirth. While the mind and body will still need training to use the remembered abilities, a newly reborn practitioner of the Meditations has a massive advantage over those who must begin their training from scratch.

   Unfortunately, this is a very unnatural turn of affairs. There may be nothing more frustrating than to remember clearly what must be done, but to have to spend months or years waiting for your new body to develop enough to properly focus it’s eyes, to digest solid foods, and to control it’s bowels – and only then to face the daunting task of training its neural network to walk and speak again – and THEN to work for years to remaster the techniques that are so clear in your memory!

   There tend to be two major reactions to this sort of experience. Some people become impatient, driven, and strive endlessly to overcome the constraints of their new bodies. They become determined to overcome all opposition and to go forth and accomplish great things. Many will seek vengeance on whoever killed them last time and put them through this ordeal before it’s time. They use their power to take what they want, and demonstrate the superiority of their abilities. They become the Asuras, the Mortal Demon-Gods of the Ivory Kingdoms.

   Others become more philosophical. They accept their slow development, learn patience and acceptance, and allow their abilities to return at their own rate, without forcing them. These tend to become the Devas, the patrons and supporters of civilization in the Ivory Kingdoms, the guardians of stability – and the ones who have accepted that battles between the reincarnating demigodlings are both horrifically destructive and relatively pointless. Their goal is to transcend the great wheel, to achieve the ability to move throughout the multiverse without the need for constant death and rebirth.

   Some of each – particularly those who only mastered the Meditations of Unity in their immediately prior life – renounce the discipline, and go through their next childhood without such frustrations. They will still be exceptionally talented, and may pick up the Meditations with unnatural ease if they ever decide to study them again – but without the regular practice of the Meditations, such effects fade across lifetimes. One can return to normality.

   Others die before they can fully develop the meditations again – one reason why the Asuras-and-Devas-to-be usually take care not to display their powers too early – but such individuals, having practiced them over many lives, are almost certain to pick them up easily in a future life anyway.

 

The Meditations of Unity – an

Ivory Kingdoms advanced “Courtier” School:

   Requirements: Void 4, Meditation 4, Theology 4, at least two ranks in some other school.

First Technique: The Awareness of the Great Wheel.

   Your spirit may not be subdivided, despite the stresses of any form of rebirth (5) and – when you begin your next incarnation – you will clearly recall this one, allowing you to relearn your current schools without benefit of an instructor (10, -5 for having no direct applicability, net 5). You gain (Rank) free raises on Meditation rolls (5), gain the “Sensitive” Psychic Power thanks to your limited multidimensional awareness (3), and learn two level one Mudra of your choice, although their use still requires a Meditation skill of 3+ (2).

Second Technique: The Boundless Strengths Within

   In your next life, you will not need to pay experience to redevelop techniques from this lives in which your practiced the Meditations of Unity, although you must attain a high enough rank to have technique slots available (10, -5 for having no direct applicability, net 5) and gain double the Style bonuses of the Meditation skill (5). You learn two Rank-2 and two Rank-3 Mudra of your choice, although their use still requires a Meditation skill of 6+ and 9+ respectively (10).

Third Technique: The Manifestation of the Divine Essence

   As a unified entity, you gain partial Immunity to the normal restrictions on learning techniques: you may learn two techniques per rank instead of one per rank (10). Knowing the unreality of inury, you may subtract your Willpower from any wounds you take to a minimum of 0 (5) and recover (Void) wounds per hour (5).

   According to legend, there is Hidden Fourth Technique in the Meditations of Unity: The Opening of the Ways. It provides +3K0 Bonus Dice which count as being skilled for Meditation (6), and access to additional Mudra – one each of Ranks 1-3 (6) and two of Rank 4; The Paths of the Void and The Recreation of the Self (8). Between them, those two Mudra may indeed provide freedom from the Great Wheel. Unfortunately, there are no known practitioners of the fourfold way to ask.

   If there is a fifth technique, no one knows what it might be.

   Overall, the Meditations of Unity are only a moderately useful school for your current incarnation. The ability to double up on techniques is very nice at higher levels – but this time around you’ll still have to pay for them and you’re investing three techniques in getting that ability. If you happen to be rank five when you acquire it, that means that you’ll now have ten technique slots – three of them devoted to a not especially helpful school. You’ll have spent 75 XP, and spent all your time since Rank 2 with greatly inferior techniques, to qualify for a couple of extra techniques now – which you still have to pay for.

   So it’s just lovely for your NEXT incarnation – but how do you create someone who is CURRENTLY an Asura or Deva?

   Actually, that’s pretty simple.

  • You need an Ally or Allies (your own prior existence, possibly in various aspects) with enough Influence to bestow Access to “a school or two” – invariably including the Meditations of Unity and at least one, and possibly two, other schools (10), Immunity to the normal experience-point costs of learning said schools (10), five 2-point Knacks (in Meditation and four skills related to the schools it teaches, 10), and Immunity to the normal restrictions on learning techniques: may learn two techniques per rank instead of one per rank (10). Now, that’s eight points worth of Influence alone (requiring you to buy this ally at least twice, since four is the upper limit), and your own prior existence is definitely at the Major Eccentricity level (+2 points), and definitely went to a GREAT deal of trouble to help you (+2 points). That’s 16 points worth of Advantages right there.
  • Out of game, you’ll also have to persuade the game master to let you take that little monstrosity of an advantage.
  • You’d also have started off well before normal adulthood – a penalty of at least 20 points out of your initial 60 for a Deva, and possibly up to 50 points worth (the penalty for starting off as a small child) for an Asura.
  • A few bonus dice, secrets, and languages are probably in order as well – if you have any points left to spend at this point.

   As a practical matter, most Devas and Asuras are fairly quiet until they manage to reach rank four or so – at which point they’ll have eight techniques, normally including the complete Meditations of Unity for next time around. Really energetic ones can manage it by the time they’re twelve or so, ten or so if they’re willing to take some serious risks. That’s less uncommon than you’d think: proper caution and consideration of the possible consequences is also a function of mental maturity – just like learning to walk. A child is still a child, and inclined to immature behavior, no matter how powerful an Asura or Deva they may be.

   Unsurprisingly, the practice of the Meditations have had some pretty drastic effects on the societies of the Ivory Kingdoms. They still have gods, ancestors, and so on – not everyone who becomes powerful practices the Meditations – albeit not nearly so many of them. They also have quite a few really high-powered essentially unkillable individual demigodlings wandering about – many of them still pursuing quarrels that have come down through a dozen incarnations. It is not without reason that the Asuras are referred to as Demon Gods.

Federation-Apocalypse Log 36a: The Mecha Debating Society

   With the last of it’s internal checkups finally completed – a few things had had to wait until a hot drop for final testing – Mirage turned it’s internal sensors to a full pre-combat evaluation of it’s pilots, in case medical attention was needed later. There was no sign of serious opposition, and there was still 200 miles to go to the drop zone – plenty of time.

   It didn’t take it long to discern that Jaiden was about a month along in pregnancy.

   That was just WRONG. You DIDN’T take pregnant women into combat. For that matter, wasn’t she too young to either be taken into combat OR to be pregnant? Comparing the detailed scan to the medical files – now that that subprogram had been activated – certainly matched an adolescent much better than a mature woman! The Mirage had sort of assumed that she – and the cadets – were older than they looked, or they wouldn’t be allowed into the military – but if they were disregarding the regulations about pregnant women in combat zones, what else was being disregarded? This was simply unacceptable!

   The Mirage promptly registered a protest. The resulting eruption rapidly went downhill…

   Jarvian diverted almost totally into a “why didn’t you tell me!” routine, relieved only slightly by “I don’t believe in fathering bastards!” and an immediate contradictory “but I’m not READY to get married!” and “How could this happen!” (On that, the files were fairly clear; they’d started sleeping together in Samurai Jack world). Jaiden explained that he’d wanted an heir, and so she was bearing a child for him – and that she had intended to tell him in a week or two – and if he hadn’t meant to impregnate her, why hadn’t he either been using contraception or asking her to do so? She knew what that would result in, didn’t he? Then she wound up shapeshifting to illustrate a point, which sent both Jarvian and the Mirage into even worse confusion. Neither of them had ever actually seen one of the Thralls do that before – although they had been TOLD that some of them were in bird-form once or twice, they’d never actually been around to see it happen). The fact that she knew it was a boy (if he wanted a girl they’d have to try again in a year or so) was also diverting, at least to Jarvian.

   The Mirage kept talking about regulations, and her being underage, and overriding to take her back to a safe location now that it had pilot-override authority. The other Thralls/Cadets got in on it, pointing out that this wasn’t “combat”, or even really risky, it was more like kicking over sandcastles defended by hermit crabs – and since the piloting was neural-input did they have to stay in human form? Could they play with making trick shots with the weapons? If Jarvian was fussing over Jaiden being pregnant did he want to impregnate one or both of the other girls as well? That got back into bastards possibly usurping legitimate heirs, and social classes, and whether or not the Cadets – ages 12-14 – were adult.

   They insisted that they were, on the grounds that – at least on Baelaria – 12 was adult and old enough to marry or enlist in the military – and some upper-class men took lower-class mistresses that were even younger. Jarvian joined the Mirage in insisting that they were NOT adults at that age, and if he’d known they were that young he’d NEVER have taken them into something risky. Jarvian preferred a MINIMUM of 17, maybe 16 if you forged some paperwork (that notion set off the Mirage again), to which the Cadets responded by pointing out that they were far less vulnerable than Jarvian OR the Mirage was (both of whom could really die) – whereupon they proposed getting out and dealing with some Battlemechs personally; if they levitated up to the cockpit, used a slap mine to pop the hatch, and pulled the pilot out and beat him or her up, it should be easy.

   This got diverted to whether or not someone who owned five of the most powerful war machines in this end of the galaxy was “nobody special”, and as to whether his own powers and associates qualified him as “special” – which turned into a discussion of just what military organization, if any, they were actually a part of – and of what regulations (if any) they were functioning under, and whether or not some “Samurai” had kept mistresses – and if he didn’t want the kid, they could just encourage him to sign up with Kevin later, which would get him useful powers, a guarantee of survival, and the freedom of the Manifold, yet still keep him out of the way until long after all his speculative “legitimate heirs” to come were long dead of old age – and it all threatened to become a complete and tangled morass.

   OK, it was too late for “threatened”. It had become a complete and tangled morass quite some time ago.

   Jarvian decided that he was going to have a SERIOUS TALK with Kevin! The Cadets were astoundingly talented, but he would definitely prefer some OLDER candidates – or maybe even some normal human beings!

   The Mirage concluded that Jaiden was going straight to an appropriate medical facility, whether she or Jarvain liked it or not. Pregnancy was ALWAYS a good reason for a through checkup, at least by a dedicated medical computer and preferably by a human specialist as well. Underage pregnancies were known to be ESPECIALLY risky in any case! The other children need psychiatric evaluation as well! They ALL seemed to consider themselves adults, despite being obviously juvenile – and, even worse, they all acted like Jarvian had some sort of right to put them at risk, to their obedience, and even to their bodies! Children that age should (ok, there wasn’t much in the files except… Ok…) be in school, not piloting war machines into battle! The use of child soldiers were against the law, several major treaties, and the universal conventions on civilized warfare!

   The other AI’s, far more limited than the Mirage – if only due to the fact that, lacking souls, they couldn’t see beyond their programming – saw nothing much wrong. Jaiden should, indeed, be removed from combat – but if the Commander said that the Cadets were old enough, and so did the Cadets, presumably the situation had been vetted before they’d been given piloting authorizations. If the commander now felt that they were too young – well, that could be checked after the mission, but it was a well-documented effect. A certain percentage of commanders who were leading new recruits into action would become maudlin, or even irrational, about how young they were. It usually resulted in an on-leave binge if there were any casualties and a need for counseling after the war, but rarely had any real effect on command efficiency.

   Taking out most of the major opposition, and capturing most of the mech pilots – although there would have to be some small-scale ground operations to take out dug-in pirates – wound up being distinctly anticlimatic. They were grossly outranged, outgunned, outarmored, and – from the point of view of the Mirage and the supporting “modern” vehicles on Jarvian’s side – were practically immobile. Basically a targeting test.

   This entire exercise was not turning out at ALL like what Jarvian had had in mind.

The Return of Marty

   Today it’s a possible upgrade for Marty, for the Federation-Apocalypse game. This version presumes that he has at least 2/3’rds as many experience points as Kevin, and will have accepted a bit of physical enhancement courtesy of Kevin’s transformation powers. Note that this version is using two fairly powerful relics, and therefore is an EXTREMELY dangerous melee combatant.

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Martin “Marty” Tabard Jr (Possible Update):

+1 ECL “Race”: Cartoonified (Toon) “Pureblooded” Human (58 CP)

  • Fast Learner/Specialized in Skills: +2 SP/Level (6 CP).
  • +4 Intelligence (Normally 24 CP, reduced to 12 CP by world laws).
  • +2 to any one attribute (normally 12 CP, reduced to 6 CP by world laws).
  • Immunity/Aging (can expect to live almost indefinitely, uncommon / minor / major, 3 CP).
  • Grant of Aid: May heal 1d8+5 damage OR 1d3 points of attribute damage OR one negative level once per three levels per day or part thereof, 6 CP), with both Regenerative options (6 CP) and +8 Bonus Uses (12 CP). In core, this requires several hours per use unless the user spends a magic point.
  • Extraordinary Returning (Specialized, Requires being “animated” with standard cel-based or 3D animation tools) (3 CP). Most toons—Marty included—are unaware that they have this ability. They have trouble thinking of themselves as creations. It would take a “mundane” friend thinking, “Hmm, that guy was a lot like a cartoon character. I wonder what happens if we base a cartoon on him?” for anyone to discover it.
  • Innate Enchantment: All spells Personal Only: Rubber Fall (resembles Feather Fall, but you have to peel yourself off the ground, 1400 GP), Regenerate Light Wounds (1/Round, up to 20 points/level/day maximum, 1400 GP), Cure Light Wounds (1d8+1 1/level/day as needed, 1400 GP), Immortal Vigor I (+12 + 2x Con Mod HP, 1400 GP), and Void Sheathe (may store a single weapon in “nowhere” and pull it out as needed, half cost due to single weapon restriction, 350 GP). 5950 GP total, 7 CP.
  • Template Disadvantage: Insane (most toons are blasé, even bored, in even the most dangerous and deadly situations, -3 CP).

   Attributes: Strength 21 (25)/+7 (DR 5/-), Dexterity 26 (28)/+9, Constitution 21/+5 (5 magic points), Intelligence 18/+4, Wisdom 14/+2, and Charisma 16/+3 (6 free contacts). Rolled Attributes: 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18

   Available Character Points: +10 CP Disadvantages (Compulsive Lechery, Alcohol Dependency and History (of character and homeworld), +2 CP/Level Duties (works for Amarant Solutions), +12 CP (L1 and L3 Feats) +48 CP (level one base) + 58 CP (experience) = 134 CP. 134 Spent.

Basics (21 CP):

  • Saving Throws:
    • Fortitude +0 (0 CP) + 5 (Con) +1 (Morale) = +6
    • Reflex +2 (6 CP) + 9 (Dex) +1 (Morale) = +12
    • Will +1 (3 CP) + 2 (Wis) +1 (Morale) = +4
  • Hit Dice: L1-3d8/21 HP (12 CP) +2d6/12 HP (Magic) +25 (Con Mod x 5) +30 (Smartclothes) = 88 (66 in Core and no-magic realms).

Combat Information (34 CP):

  • Proficiencies: All Simple and Commando Weapons (Garrotes, Pistols, Shortswords / Combat Knives, Etc) (12 CP, -8 from Dex = 4 CP) and Light Armor (3 CP).
  • Move: 30 ft (Base) + 10 (Genes) +30 (Light Foot) +30 (Personal Haste) = 100
  • Initiative: +9 (Dex)
  • BAB: +2 (12 CP) +5 BAB specialized in Knives and Shortswords (15 CP). Net BAB +2, +11 with Knives and Shortswords.
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) + 9 (Dex) + 2 (Wis, per world rules) +4 (military smartclothes) +4 (Shield) +1 (Natural) = 30.
  • Damage Reduction 5/- (Strength) + 4/- (Smartclothes) = 9/- versus both physical and energy damage.

Usual Weapons:

  • +3 keen knife: +11 (BAB) +3 (Magic) +9 (Dex) +1 (Morale) +2 (Martial Art) +4 (Int) = +30/+30 (Personal Haste)/+25/+20 to Hit, Damage 1d4 (Base) +7 (Str) +4 (Int) +3 (Magic) +1 (Morale)+5d6 (Sneak Attack) = 1d4+15+5d6 Sneak Attack. With Crushing and Hammer +35 to Hit, Damage 76 + 120 if Sneak Attack applies. Crit 17-20, Range Increment 100 ft (Magical) or 10 ft (thrown).
  • Necktie (as improvised garrote) +2 (BAB) +9 (Dex) +1 (Morale) = +12, 1d8 (Base) +7 (Str) +4 (Int) +1 (Morale) = 1d8+12 silencing nonlethal, 20/x2.
  • Slugthrower pistol: +2 (BAB) +4 (Smartlink) +9 (Dex) +1 (Morale) = +16, 2d6 ballistic +1 (Morale), Crit 20/x2, 40 ft range increment., 25 round magazine, 2 lb.
  • Plasma pistol: +2 (BAB) +9 (Dex) +1 (Morale) = +12, 2d10 +1 (Morale), Crit 20/x2, 40 ft range increment, 50 shot magazine, 2 lb, can be used as a tool.

   Usual Gadgets (17): Military Smartclothes (3) with Exoskeleton (1) and +30 HP (3), Masterwork Knife (1), Slugthrower pistol with concealable and improved accuracy options (1), old-style notebook computer (1), old-style cell phone (1), garrot-functional necktie (1).

   The old-style notebook computer and old-style cell phone are useless in Core Earth, but function just fine in any world at a 21st-century tech level.

Purchased Abilities (57 CP):

  • Augmented Bonus (6 CP): May add Int Bonus to Str Bonus for melee combat purposes.
  • Dimensional Adaptation (3 CP): Double Enthusiast (Specialized, “Identities” skill only; Corrupted, Only reduces the cost of identities he actually establishes, only changes in new world). All roles effectively L4 for one skill point each.
  • Finesse (6 CP): May replace Str with Dex for melee attack rolls.
  • Fortune (Evasion) (6 CP): Takes no damage from area attacks on a successful Reflex save.
  • Improvise Weapon (3 CP)
  • Martial Arts (6 CP): Inflicts 1d6 when unarmed, counts as an armed attacker.
  • Reflex Action/Combat Reflexes Variant (6 CP): Gets 9 Attacks of Opportunity.
  • Block/Melee (6 CP): May spend an Attack of Opportunity and make a DC 20 Reflex Save to reduce the damage from a melee attack by 60 points.
  • Internal Transformation Shapeshift/Leopard Genegrafts (9 CP): Leopard Attribute Modifiers (Str +6, Dex +8, Con +4, +10 Move, +1 Natural Armor, +8 to Acrobatics and Jump, +4 to Stealth, Low-Light Vision, and Scent), Hybrid Form, Clear Speech, Variants (Human Appearance). Specialized: Leopard Form Only, Corrupted: Cannot actually Change Forms (27 CP base, net cost 9 CP).
  • Double Enthusiast (6 CP), Specialized in Relics, Corrupted (must have someone able to make relics to assist him in redirecting the points). Provides 6 CP worth of Relics.

Current Relics:

   Blademaster’s Ring (3 CP Relic): Innate Enchantment. All spells level one, caster level one, personal-only where applicable. Immunity/Dispelling and Antimagic (Common/Minor/Epic, Specialized in protecting the user’s Innate Enchantments only, 9 CP),

  • Rogue’s Sure Eye (+2D6 Sneak Attack for three rounds, 1400 GP)
  • Inspiring Word (+1 Morale Bonus to Damage, Saves, Checks, and Attacks, 1400 GP)
  • Light Foot (Transmutation. The user becomes extremely light on his or her feet,gaining a +30 circumstance bonus on his or her ground movement speed a +10 circumstance bonus on jump checks, as well as DR 10 versus Falling Damage [only], for 1d6+2 rounds, 1400 GP).
  • Personal Haste (+1 Attack when making a full attack, +30 Enhancement bonus to movement rates, 2000 GP).
  • Blade Mastery (+4 Competence Bonus to BAB with Blades [swords and knives], 1400 GP).
  • Ranged Strike (Allows the user to “fire” melee attacks with a 100′ range increment for the next 3 rounds, using the same statistics, 1400 GP).
  • Shield (+4 Shield bonus to AC, negates Magic Missiles. 2000 GP).

   Anime Blade Belt (3 CP Relic): Enhanced Strike (Crushing and Hammer) with +1 1/2 x [Dex Mod] Bonus Uses Each (Usable every round, 30 CP), plus Block/Arcane (6 CP), both Specialized (only usable with Knives and Shortswords, half cost).

   Actually, that’s fairly overwhelming: it might be better to use some other kind of relic – unless, of course, the group is up against some major military vehicles or something.

Skill Points

   22 CP +24 (Int) +12 (Race) +6 (Neural Enhancer) = 64 SP. 53 Spent.

Broad Skills (All +4 Int, +1 Morale, 31 SP):

  • Physical Skills (13 SP): Acrobatics (Dex) +23 (1 SP +9 Dex +8 Genes), Blood Blade Technique +16 (3 SP +8 Dex), Core Earth Technology +10 (1 SP +4 Int), Gadgets +14 (1 SP +8 Dex), Stealth +23 (1 SP +9 Dex +4 Genes +4 Gear)
  • Knowledge Skills: Business (Int) +15 (6 SP +4 Int), Computer Operation +11 (2 SP +4 Int), Electronics Operation +10 (1 SP +4 Int)
  • Perception Skills: Listen +13 (2 SP +2 Wis +4 Gear), Sense Motive +13 (6 SP +2 Wis), Spot +14 (3 SP +2 Wis +4 Gear)
  • Other Skills: Gadgetry +15 (1 SP +9 Dex), Identities +10 (1 SP +3 Cha), Wealth/Core Earth +22 (2 SP +3 Cha +10 Dangerous Part-Time Job +2 GM Bonus).

Narrow Skills (All +4 Int +5 Training, +1 Morale, 22 SP):

  • Physical Skills: Climb +22 (1 SP +7 Str +4 Gear), Drive/Automobile +20 (1 SP +9 Dex), Golf +20 (1 SP +9 Dex) Jump +36 (1 SP +7 Str +8 Genes +10 Magic), Stealth +29 (2 SP + 9 Dex +4 Genes +4 Synergy), Pilot/Flit +20 (1 SP +9 Dex)
  • Knowledge Skills: (All +4 Int, +14 Total Base): Battling Business Regulations +15 (1 SP), Battling Business World New York City +15 (1 SP), Close Combat Tactics +15 (1 SP), Core Earth New York City +15 (1 SP), Business Administration +17 (3 SP), Sports Betting +15 (1 SP)
  • Other Skills: Bargaining +14 (1 SP +3 Cha), Bluff +14 (1 SP +3 Cha), Carousing +14 (1 SP +3 Cha), Diplomacy +15 (2 SP +3 Cha), Intimidation +14 (1 SP +3 Cha), Public Speaking +14 (1 SP +3 Cha)

   +3 Specialities (1 SP Each); Gadgets/Smartclothes

Blood Blade Technique (Dex)

  • Requires: Weapon Finesse (Dagger) or equivalent point buy
  • Basic Techniques: Attack 3, Synergy 3 (Disguise and Stealth x2)
  • Advanced Techniques: Sneak Attack 3 (+3d6), and Master Technique: Quick Draw
  • Occult Techniques: Serpent Strike (Con), Light Foot, Vanishing, and Ki Focus
  • Blood Blade Techniques Known: Attack 2, Synergy/Stealth x2, Sneak Attack 3, Quick Draw

Package Deal: Veteran Agent for the House of Roses:

  • Privilege: Access to military-level hardware and vehicles. Corrupted/access is limited by what the organization decides that a particular mission calls for (2 CP).
  • Immunity: Neural Enhancer can only be taken away by special surgery or by the use of spells or psychic powers of level 4+ (Uncommon/Minor/Minor, 2 CP)
  • Relic/Neural Enhancer (2 CP): +6 Skill Points (1 CP) and Awareness (suffers no defensive penalties when surprised, retains Dex bonus when flat-footed or attacked by invisible opponents, no save penalties versus surprises, 1 CP).
  • Enthusiast: Specialized, only changes with access to appropriate skill programs (1 CP).
  • Favors/House of Roses: Specialized, only available in pursuit of assigned mission or to maintain the integrity, secrets, and reputation of the House (1 CP).

Bonus Abilities (as designated by the game master: no cost)

  • Mystic Link (Communication) (Normally 6 CP): Marty may sense his boss, Peter Leland, wherever he is and may communicate with him across dimensions.
  • Privileges (Normally 6 CP, in this case only applies to Battling Business World, where he rarely is): Wealthy, with a battle sedan and nice apartment in. Licensed to practice battling business (law enforcement in other worlds may find this license amusing).
  • Reputation (Normally 6 CP, free because earned): In Battling Business World, Marty Tabard is known across its New York City business community as an up-and-coming corporate raider. He’s also known among its Blood Blade Technique practitioners as someone to trust. Finally, he has a reputation as an eccentric businessman in Core Earth’s United States.

Contacts (6 free, 2 acquired in play; 2 dropped for House of Roses package)

  • Officer Dulandal, London police officer in Potterworld.
  • Peter Leland, CEO of Amarant Solutions and Marty’s direct superior.
  • Johnson, old fraternity friend and battling business scion.
  • Olivia Patterson, a sociologist and House of Roses agent researching Toonworlds.
  • Derek Stone, Blood Blade Technique master.
  • Taraq, Londinium mobster in Baelaria.

   Kevin will be perfectly happy to supply a couple of female Thralls – Elerra and Minel – to serve as personal assistants. Both look like lovely young elves (dark and high) in “human” form, Kevin would suggest that Marty keep them in ferret-form in his pockets to heal and enhance him while he’s out and about. What Marty does with them the rest of the time is entirely up to him.

   Elerra has 32 Power, 10 Mana, Reality Editing, and Ki Block. She can cast second-level spells at the usual effective caster level of three, using Divination (for example, various detects, a +10 Competence Bonus to a skill), and Transmutation (for example, +4 attribute boosters), and Evocations. Her Witchcraft talents are Witchcraft Talents: Dreamfaring, Elfshot, Glamour, Hand of Shadows, Healing, The Inner Eye, and Witchsight. She is a skilled masseur, sketch artist, and dancer. She has standard Thrall abilities (being re-summonable if killed, having a mental communications link with Marty, shapeshifting, decent combat statistics, and being a good servant / concubine) otherwise.

   Minel has 31 Power, 9 Mana, Spell Enhancement, and the Vanishing Technique. She can cast first-level Abjuration (protective), Necromancy, and Illusion spells at the usual caster level three. She can Create Relics, has the same Relic Enthusiast package as this version of Marty. Her Witchcraft Talents are Dreamfaring, The Hand of Shadows, Healing, Infliction, Shadowweave, Witchfire, Witchsight. She is a skilled smith, mechanic, and musician. She has standard Thrall abilities (being re-summonable if killed, having a mental communications link with Marty, shapeshifting, decent combat statistics, and being a good servant / concubine) otherwise.

Shadowrun Penumbra: Primitive Magic

   Here are a few speciality magical skills from the dimension-hopping Shadowrun Campaign. In this case, they were the arts practiced by a stone age shaman of the People of the Hawk. Thanks to their being less specialized than the seven modern magical skills, it proved possible (if expensive in terms of Karma and the buying of either special advantages or levels of initiation) for Iuri – and presumably other modern mages – to acquire Dreamquesting, Crafting, and Elementalism as non-exclusive magical skills  despite already having their usual allotment. As a knowledge skill, anyone can acquire Geomancy if they can find an instructor.

   For those using the Shadowrun: Penumbra magical system, a Primitive Mage, with full access to all three primitive magic skills would be a Class-B Magic-Wielder. Access to any one would be considered a Class-C Monomage or Talent.

Primitive Magic

   Magic has evolved. It reflects the minds of its users – and the steady march of progress has left it’s stamp on the minds of the world. Even the most primitive tribes no longer see spirits thrusting the sun above the horizon every morning. Still, primitive magic isn’t weak; it’s ties with the natural world grant it considerable power. It’s that its slow, somewhat unpredictable and sometimes dangerous to use. That’s why primitive magic was slowly abandoned in favor of the seven “modern” magical skills. The primitive magic skills shown below are lost arts in the world of 2060 and normally are not available during character creation.

   Dreamquesting is ancestral to Conjuration, Astral Access, and Thaumaturgy. The principle is simple: you have a problem, you probe the astral realms for a spirit that can deal with it, and you try to get it to help you.
   In practice it’s a bother. For dreamquesters, magical acts tend to be individualized adventures. Curing a sick kid may involve seeking out a spirit with healing powers and persuading it to help out, battling a plague spirit, finding a magical “herb” that embodies the spell you need, carrying the  child’s soul to the “well of life”, or whatever seems appropriate. One may fight, persuade, bargain with, or trick spirits, face weird riddle contests, undertake strange tests of worthiness and long journeys through mythic landscapes, and take a myriad of forms.  Time is subjective on a dreamquest: hours of trance may seem like weeks. Fortunately, being “defeated” on a quest simply hurls the quester back into his or her body. Perhaps even more fortunately, “great” spirits – entities such as; Death, Fate, Gaia, and major mythic Gods – are out of the reach of dreamquesters until they gain access to the metaplanes. In general, every time you seek a spirit, attempt to reshape the environment of a quest, or transform yourself in a quest, roll your skill – and knock one die off your magic pool until you rest.
   Dreamquesters may develop close relationships with one spirit per level of skill. Such friendly spirits may be called on for minor aid appropriate to the spirit up to once per session each without a quest.  Since a quest normally requires hours or even days this can be very useful. If dice are needed for such effects, roll (2x Skill Level)d6. Questers don’t suffer essence loss and can’t “lose their bodies” while on a quest; the separation of spirit and body is incomplete.

   Crafting is ancestral to Enchantment, Witchcraft, and Enhancement. Unlike those modern skills, Crafting can’t provide things with new abilities and properties; it can only grant bonuses to those they already have.  You can’t heal an injured friend with it, but you can use it to enhance a handful of medicinal herbs and use  those.
   Crafting provides a “Pool” of crafting dice equal to (2x the user’s skill level) which may be augmented, but not more than doubled, with dice from the user’s magic pool. The user may invest up to 3 of those dice (at one die per hour of work) in improving the attributes of an item. For example, a crafter could put runes on an item to make it hit harder (adding dice to the user’s attack), hammer designs into armor to make it more protective (adding to the wearer’s body dice against attacks), or even make a talisman to aid another magical skill.
   Groups of up to 7 simple items may be given a +1d enchantment at a cost of 2 dice from the pool. For example, you might bless a group’s bows.
   Fast enchantments are possible, but are only 50% efficient and are limited to a maximum of +2 dice.
   Craft effects may be made permanent, and the pool dice freed up, for 6 Karma per die. Sadly, the effects of such items don’t stack with each other.

   Elementalism is ancestral to Sorcery, Witchcraft, Conjuration, and Theurgy. It allows the user to tap into any kind of magic he or she knows how to use (i.e. has a special knowledge skill in, such as “Healing Magic” or “Weather Magic”).
   In general: 1) Pick a field. Reduce your knowledge skill level by one until you have a few hours to spend on rebuilding your magical link. 2) Roll Elementalism at a target number set by the GM to try and shape that raw magic into the effect you want, and 3) roll dice equal to your magic rating to see how powerful your effect is when unleashed.
   Sadly, if you don’t succeed on the Elementalism roll, the magic is still released – it’s just that it doesn’t do what you wanted it to.
   Elementalism does allow the user of the magic pool to augment the elementalism test, the casting test, or for spell defense as usual.
   An elementalist may spend 3 Karma to name and establish a specific effect. This eliminates the need for an elementalism check, but not the need to reduce the relevant knowledge skill or the final magic level roll. An elementalist may not establish move than (Int) effects.

   Geomancy is the fine art of occult landscaping and architecture: creating areas and structures that channel the earth’s innate mana into intentional effects. While this allows for the creation of powerful, sustained, large-scale, magic without direct strains on the user, there may be a strain on the local economy (OK! I’ll need about a million tons of stone piled up into a pyramid right here!) – and geomantic magics are neither fast nor portable.  They fell out of use as more sophisticated arcane techniques were developed and their last remnants appear today in the construction of Medicine Lodges and in the traditions of Feng Shui – albeit in degenerate forms. As a knowledge skill Geomancy may be practiced by anybody – although those without astral senses suffer a +4 target number modifier.
   The elder elves know geomancy and used it to raise the barriers around the Tir’s. The younger ones in charge of security may not be entirely happy to see the rest of the world tinkering with geomancy.

   While primitive magic is occasionally a useful auxiliary talent for a modern mage, it’s at its best when more powerful and reliable magic isn’t available. It’s also useful for minor mystics: in a primitive setting it may not be at all uncommon for relatively ordinary tribe members to dabble in magic.